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others. In all societies, large or small, SERM, there is ever a certain proportion of our fellow creatures not yet arrived at the
age of judgment and discretion: now these are, to those more advanced in life, blind and helpless beings, setting forth on a journey full of snares, and dangers, and difficulties, but which, by care, might be rendered safe, pleasant, and profitable to them; if they miss their way, destruction is before them; but, if they fall into the right track at first, the end and termination of their journeying will be peace and joy. And shall we not stretch out a hand to help these unprotected and uninstructed wanderers? I know we shall be tempted to answer in the affirmative; but let us beware lest we deceive ourselves in making any false professions. The common way of providing for children, now-a-days, is (besides that of giving them food and raiment), the procuring them to be instructed in reading and writing, the apprenticing them to some business, and so forth; among the higher classes they are taught besides many things, which, in the eye of reason,
SERM. and comparatively with the more essential VII., duties of life, can only appear frivolous
accomplishments. I have now set before you what is commonly done by way of providing, as it is called, for the rising generation. It will be well, therefore, to consider also what is too usually left undone; and this may all be resolved, perhaps, into that one great neglect of not attending, as we ought to do, to the examples we set before them. The text tells us, that the surest way to make good men, is to train ир
children in the way they ought to go, nature having provided for the efficacy of this measure, by giving them a peculiar aptness to learn at that age, and to retain impressions; how much then shall we have to answer for, if, instead of so training them up in the right way, we, by our discourses and our actions, lead them expressly into the paths of sin and wickedness ? In the book of Deuteronomy, we have a very remarkable enumeration of particularcurses denounced, by God, against several specific instances of great and extraordinary wickedness : to each of which the people are
enjoined to say, “ Amen,” not as wishing SERM. or desiring such curses may fall on their vii. fellow creatures, however sinful, but by way of acknowledging, that wickedness, so atrocious, must most reasonably be expected to draw down on it the wrath and vengeance of God; now, among these curses there is one to the following effect “ Cursed be be that maketh the blind to wan“ der out of the way; and all the people shall say amen.
I have already shewn, that with respect to the future dangers and difficulties of life, children are blind and belpless. I have shewn, that, from the constitution of their minds, they are in their tender years peculiarly apt to be led by examples. It is easy, therefore, to draw the inference, that if we do mislead young persons and children, by setting them bad examples, we, without any figure of speech, do unquestionably. “ make the blind to wander out of the way;" and, for so bar -barous a conduct must deserve the wrath and anger of God.
of God. In keeping such a check upon our conduct as may serve to lead the younger members. of the society we
„SERM. belong to, in the way they should go, our VII. several duties may be ranged under three
heads ; namely, those that relate to religion, to justice, and common honesty, and to temperance or the government of our passions; on each of which heads, I shall have some short remarks to make. As to religion, if we neglect the public worship of God, or if, though we neglect it not, we live in private, contrary to what we profess in public, then children must learn from us to make a mockery of religion also, and immediately the door is opened for the entrance and admission of all manner of sin and wickedness. But surely we must confess that we make a mockery of religion, when pretending to acknowledge God to be the Lord of all the world, we yet openly and wilfully transgress his laws, blaspheme his name, and slight his authority. I shall mention three familiar instances of "such mockery of God, for which no doubt we shall be called to strict account hereafter. All his laws are comprehended under these two heads, that we love God with all our hearts, and minds, and souls,
and our neighbour as ourselves. But when serm. our children see us so wrapped up in our worldly possessions, as to postpone the duties of religion for the most common concerns of life, and, instead of loving our neighbours as ourselves, seeking to compass our own good, by circumventing and defrauding all we may have to do with, how can they learn from this, to fulfil either of those most comprehensive laws? Again, how can they learn to reverence God's name, if they hear those that are older, and more experienced than themselves, uttering the most horrid oaths and imprecations upon the most trifling and unworthy occasions? How can they learn to revere his majesty and authority, if they see those who have deliberately entered into covenant with their Maker, openly and shamefully flying from their vows? By our baptismal vows, we are all bound to renounce the world, the flesh, and the devil ; not that, in regard to the two former, we are expected to renounce the world so far as to forego the necessary labours and occupations of life, or the flesh so far as to give up the inno